Review of Camille Rankine’s “Incorrect Merciful Impulses”

Book Review: Incorrect Merciful Impulses by Camille Rankine

(Review published in The Los Angeles Review, March 2018)

Camille Rankine’s compelling debut collection, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, enacts the struggles of one trying to connect broadly with society and more intimately with both another person and one’s self. The threat of disconnection is everywhere. In the opening poem, “Tender,” the speaker begins:

Dear patriot

Dear catastrophe

         None of this means what we thought it did

Dear bone fragments

Dear displacement

Dear broken skin

         I am in over my head              

The voice takes on a tone of tender weariness. The spacious lines, lack of punctuation, and the endearing, repetitive address “dear” opens up space for the uncertain and overwhelmed speaker struggling with present and past threats.

These struggles inhabit…

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